Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang


In its Soviet-era heyday, the Izhmash factory in the city of Izhevsk, in the western Ural mountains, used to crank out nearly 100 Kalashnikov automatic  rifles an hour. But by 2011, the storied gunmaker was approximately $30 million in the red, and the following year, in an embarrassing episode that seemed to sum up the company’s ills, 79 Kalashnikovs meant for demolition accidentally wound up in the hands of a villager buying old crates for firewood. Meanwhile, 20 Izhmash-owned companies went bankrupt. Then things really got bad: That same year, the Russian defense ministry announced it already had enough Kalashnikovs and would await the development of a better weapon before placing additional orders.

That’s when Vladimir Putin’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, stepped in. He spearheaded the reformation of Izhmash under a new name, the Kalashnikov Concern, and oversaw the sale of a 49 percent stake to two businessmen who promised to turn the company around. Engineers got to work developing a new Kalashnikov, and the stodgy weapons producer sought a seasoned public relations professional to give the company a bit of marketing polish.

They found their champion in Tina Kandelaki, a famous socialite and former television host who had appeared on the covers of the Russian versions of PlayboyInStyle, and Maxim.

Read on at Maxim


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